New front end design and available semi-autonomous features

LISTEN 11:22

The second-generation Kia Forte was launched in 2013, alongside its Korean counterpart, the K3. Penned by former Audi designed Peter Schreyer, the second-gen Forte is a significant departure from its predecessor in just about any department. Sporting a modern appearance, a more upscale interior, and new engines, the new Forte changed the way consumers think about

badged compacts. The second-gen model received its mid-cycle facelift for the 2017 model year.

From a quick glance, the updated car isn’t that big of a departure from the current Kia Forte, but there are some interesting changes to the front end and the interior. The new trim level is dubbed the “S” trim and is slated to sit between the entry-level LX trim and range-topping EX trim. I won’t go into too much detail yet, but if you’re in the market for a new Kia sedan, I suggest you wait until the 2017 model goes on sale – you’re going to like what the “S” trim has to offer over the LX trim.

With that introduction, let’s dive into the 2017 Kia Forte. Remember it’s not a huge departure from the previous model, so keep an open mind as you read over our review of Kia’s updated sedan.

Updated 06/30/2016: Kia announced prices on on the 2017 Forte sedan which is now available at Kia dealers nationwide. Check out the "Prices" section for the full details.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Kia Forte.


2017 Kia Forte High Resolution Exterior
- image 661743
In all reality the grille is about the same width as before, the sides of the grille just don’t slant as far inward as they do on the current model

Kia didn’t change the Forte enough to make it that indistinguishable from the current model. Kia claims that “the tiger nose grille has been extended to connect with the new headlights” I would like to challenge that claim. In all reality the grille is about the same width as before, the sides of the grille just don’t slant as far inward as they do on the current model – giving the grille more of a rectangular shape than before. What was really extended was the headlights. On the 2016 model, there is spacing between the grille and the lower half of the headlight. On this 2017 model, the headlight isn’t quite as tall, and the entire inboard edge of the headlight meets the grille. It gives the car a much better look, but that isn’t all that changes up front.

For the most part, the hood has remained the same. It is able to sit a little lower on the sides thanks to the facts that the headlights aren’t as fat. Those headlights, by the way, still wrap around the front end, terminating on the fenders. Down below, the fascia has been changed dramatically. The fog lights have been moved inward and sit next to the air dam. It should be noted that those fog lights are a bit larger too. Now that the fog lights have been moved inward, Kia added a small air vent on each corner, giving the front end a much sportier look.

The wrap around taillights are more rounded and have more of a clear lens, but that is about the extent of changes on the side.

To the side, there isn’t a whole lot of change to speak of. The mirrors, doors, and that “wide V” body line on the lower portion of doors are all identical to the 2016 model. The wrap around taillights are more rounded and have more of a clear lens, but that is about the extent of changes on the side.

To the rear, there are minor changes. The deck lids has a slightly more pronounced lip, and the tail lights have a double-layered look to them. Down below, a small body line has been added to the corners, giving way to a sportier rear end, and the reflectors have been dropped down a little. The insert on the bottom of the rear fascia has a straight edge on top, and the exhaust outlet is now oval shaped instead of round.

Exterior features are dependent on the trim model at hand. For instance, the new “S” trim receives 16-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, a rear spoiler, and chrome exhaust tip. The EX model receives LED taillights, Smart Key with perimeter approach lighting and 17-inch alloy wheels. Automatic bending headlights are available as an option.


2017 Kia Forte High Resolution Interior
- image 661740

Inside, there isn’t that much change in comparison to the 2016 model. The gill-like styling on the door trim remains and has been added to the passenger side of the dash between the center stack and the passenger dash vent. The seats retain the same general design, however, technology and material features vary by trim level.

LX and S trim levels receive upgraded cloth for the seats, with the S trim receiving exclusive black cloth with white contrast stitching.

LX and S trim levels receive upgraded cloth for the seats, with the S trim receiving exclusive black cloth with white contrast stitching. The S trim also receives a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter. In EX form, the Forte is setup with leather, heated seats that are electronically adjustable in 10 different ways. The EX also comes complete with dual-position memory settings, dual-zone automatic HVAC controls, rear passenger vents, and push-button start with a Smart Key.

S and EX trims also come standard with UVO33 telematics, which is Kia’s infotainment system. It includes a seven-inch touchscreen and connects to mobile devices via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Kia does offer a navigation system in the new Forte, however, it didn’t indulge on which trim levels. It’s safe to assume the base-model LX will be left out, with the S and EX trim levels receiving it as standard or at least as an optional package.

The coolest part of the new Forte is that every trim level comes with Drive Mode Select as a standard feature. This function changes the way the car shifts, accelerates, and performs dependent on your selection. Normal mode is pretty self-explanatory, Eco mode tunes the car to cut back on fuel usage, while sport mode will allow the car to have quick shifting and longer periods between shifts – allowing the car to take advantage of the entire rev range. Naturally, some fuel economy will be sacrificed in Sport mode.


2017 Kia Forte High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
- image 661880

For the 2017 model year, the Kia got rid of that old 1.8-liter four-cylinder. LX and S trim levels receive a new 2.0-liter, Atkinson four-cylinder. Both trim levels come standard with a six-speed manual transmission, but a six-speed automatic can be optioned, probably at a premium. The EX trim level receives a 2.0-liter, GDI four-cylinder and a six-speed automatic transmission. As Kia put it, the 2.0-liter GDI is “tried-and-true.”

LX and S trim levels receive a new 2.0-liter, Atkinson four-cylinder.

No power figures for the engines have been released yet. Kia really left us hanging on that one. Power ratings and fuel economy figures will be released closer to the official launch date for the 2017 model. Production is said to start sometime in the first six months of 2016, so expect the 2017 model to be released somewhere toward the end of the third quarter or beginning of the fourth quarter.

As a quick note, Kia also announced that the new S trim would receive a sport-tuned suspension, which means it should be capable of outperforming the other trim levels when it comes to cornering and maneuvers around sharp curves. Of course, it probably won’t put out as much power and torque as the EX trim with its GDI four-cylinder, but that might be worth the sacrifice for that sports suspension.


2017 Kia Forte High Resolution Exterior
- image 661737

Kia has yet to release information about airbags, but previous models had side curtain airbags in the front and rear, front airbags for bother passengers, and seat-mounted torso airbags, so I would expect at least that from the 2017 model.

On the optional side of things, the new Forte can be equipped with autonomous emergency braking, front collision warning, lane change warning, lane keep assist, blind spot detection, lane change assist, and rear cross-traffic alert. Kia considers these systems as “convenience features,” and some of them are, but don’t put too much faith in them. These systems are designed to be backups in the event that a driver isn’t responding to a potential hazard. All autonomous features are still in the early stages and shouldn’t be relied on just because they are there.


2017 Kia Forte High Resolution Exterior
- image 661736

Pricing for the new Kia Forte starts from $16,490, which accounts for a $500 increase compared to the previous model. For this amount you get the LX trim with the manual transmission. For the same version with the automatic, the sticker increases to $17,500. Moving up to the Forte S will require at least $19,200 before options, while the range-topping Forte EX costs $21,200.

Model Description MSRP
Forte LX 2.0L I4 - 6 M/T $16,490.00
Forte LX 2.0L I4 - 6 A/T $17,500.00
Forte S 2.0L I4 - 6 A/T $19,200.00
Forte EX 2.0L I4 - 6 A/T $21,200.00


Aurora Black Pearl Paint $295.00
Popular Package $900.00
Premium Package $2,500.00
Premium Plus Package $4,490.00
Technology Package $1,490.00
Snow White Pearl Paint $295.00
Rear Bumper Appliqué $75.00
Cargo Mat $95.00
Carpet Floormats $120.00
Trunk Cargo Hook $26.00
Cargo Net $50.00
Cargo Tray $80.00
Auto-dimming rear-view mirror with Compass and Homelink® $350.00
Mudguards $95.00
Protection Package $175.00
Remote Start (Key Start) $495.00
Remote Start (Push-Button Start) $495.00
Rear Spoiler $295.00
Wheel Locks $55.00


Honda Civic

2016 Honda Civic High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 651099

The Honda Civic Sedan was redesigned for the 2016 model year and should compete well with the new Kia Forte. The Civic is available in five different trim levels: LX, EX, EX-T, EX-L, and Touring. The LX trim level starts out at $18,640 with a six-speed manual, moves up to $19,440 when equipped with a CVT transmission, and commands $20,440 with the CVT and Honda’s semi-autonomous Honda Sensing technology. LX and EX form, the car puts out 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque from a 2.0-liter, DOHC, four-cylinder. In EX-T, EX-L and Touring form, the Civic puts out 174 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque from a 1.5-liter, DOHC four-cylinder. Moving up to each trim level will increase the starting price by about $1,000, with the range-topping Touring trim starting at $26,500.

Read our full review on the Honda Civic here.


2017 Kia Forte High Resolution Exterior
- image 661738

To be honest, I’ve never been that big a fan of Kia products, but I like where Kia is going with the Forte. Just the fact that they are adding a trim level (S trim) that is more sport based with sports suspension is a big deal. The front end redesign definitely provides a sportier look and should be a welcome change compared to the 2016 model – those headlights just weren’t sexy. That new trim level will probably be a big hit as I think a lot of people like to stay away from entry level, but don’t want to pay for the range-topping trim. That said, the extras that come with the S trim should be considered ample if my pricing prediction is correct. I’m curious to see what kind of performance and economy figures the 2017 model will post. They should be at least a little better than the 2016 model.

  • Leave it
    • Little change to the interior
    • Little change to the side of the car
    • no performance figures or pricing yet
Robert Moore
Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert -
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read full bio
About the author

Press Release

The Motor City today got an up close look at the refreshed 2017 Forte when Kia Motors America pulled the silk off the updated compact sedan at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The 2017 Forte sedan has been improved for the new model year with subtle visual changes, a new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder powertrain engineered for improved fuel economy and performance, and a host of advanced convenience and driver-assistance features. Pricing for the 2017 Forte will be announced closer to the vehicle’s on-sale date in the first quarter of 2016.

2017 Kia Forte High Resolution Exterior
- image 661737

Visual enhancements to the 2017 Forte add even more sophistication to its European sport-sedan styling. Up front, the Forte dons a new front bumper and “tiger nose” grille that has been extended to connect with new headlights, much like the all-new 2016 Optima. This new take on the front fascia gives the Forte a more fluid appearance, and customers will have the choice of two designs, one highlighting the Forte’s sophisticated personality and one that’s more aggressive and sporty. Completing the exterior redesign are newly designed taillights, with optional LEDs.

Now available in three trims, a new sporty S trim sits in between the entry-level LX trim and the top-trim EX model. The new S trim amps up the Forte’s dynamic demeanor by adding a sport-tuned suspension, 16-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, rear spoiler, and a chrome exhaust tip. For 2017, the EX trim remains the top of the range, and with that, comes standard with premium exterior features such as LED taillights, Smart Key with perimeter approach lighting and front door pocket lighting, and new 17-inch alloy wheels. Like its bigger Optima sibling, the Forte is available with Dynamic Bending Light technology, which uses steering wheel inputs to angle the light around corners and bends.

Inside, LX and S trims get upgraded cloth materials for the seats, with the S trim featuring exclusive black cloth seats with white contrasting stitching, as well as a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The EX now comes standard with leather seats with heated front seats, 10-way power driver seat with a two-position memory setting, dual-zone automatic temperature, rear vents, and a push-button start with Smart Key. As for infotainment, both the S and EX trims come standard with UVO33 telematics, which is displayed on a 7-inch color touch screen and includes a suite of core smartphone functions via Android Auto and Apple CarPlayTM (late availability). Both platforms elevate the Forte’s in-vehicle connectivity by allowing drivers to conveniently use the touchscreen for smartphone functions like sending text messages, streaming music, and looking up driving directions.

2017 Kia Forte High Resolution Exterior
- image 661738

Depending on trim, the Forte will also come with Kia’s latest navigation system. All trims come standard with Drive Mode Select, which allows the driver to change the driving experience based on their preference: Normal, Eco, or Sport.

Further solidifying the Forte’s value proposition is its long list of available convenience features, which includes Autonomous Emergency Braking, Front Collision Warning, Lane Change Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist, and Rear-Cross Traffic Alert3.

Replacing last year’s 1.8-liter inline-4 cylinder engine beneath the hood, the 2017 Forte now comes standard with a 2.0-liter Atkinson I-4, which is paired with a six-speed manual transmission or an available second-generation six-speed automatic transmission that has been engineered to help improve fuel economy4. The EX trim is equipped with the tried-and-true 2.0-liter GDI I-4 and six-speed automatic. Power ratings and fuel economy figures will be released closer to launch, while 2017 Koup details will be released at a later date.

The Forte sedan will be produced at Kia’s new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Monterrey, Mexico, making it the first vehicle to be built at the automaker’s second North American plant. Production at the Mexico facility is slated to begin in the first half of 2016.

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: